Author Topic: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse  (Read 8332 times)

kib

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Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« on: December 23, 2014, 07:27:10 AM »
I posted in a thread on falling off the YNAB wagon, but on reflection I'd like to get deeper into why I am not tracking.  The truth is, I used to micro track, it was very rewarding, and I miss it.  I don't mind doing it on paper or computer, I love writing my own spreadsheets, I used to be a monument to wall charts. But I got FI before I got married, and then the shtf, financially speaking.

I have a DH who 1. is not on board with this and 2. who buys things constantly. I do the majority of the "real" shopping - primarily food - and probably go out for things twice a week, while I don't think he has gone a single day without buying at least two things in the ten years we've been married.  It's a rare day something doesn't arrive in the mail.   Weekends it's not unusual for him to run 10 errands, each one some fussy multiple receipt - get gas, plus a diet coke and a key chain.  Go to Lowes for three specialty washers, pick up lightbulbs we don't need plus an as-seen-on-tv weeding gadget.  Go get a new motorcycle tire and come home with a new helmet and a pair of heated socks, in July that turn out to be the wrong size in December.  Times five.  He's the cherry on my cake in other ways, and we agreed early on that there would be no debt in this marriage, but frankly, he's the Nair on my mustache.

Do you think microtracking would be useful in my case?  I want to, but I get soooo bogged down with all these purchases.  Tracking what he's buying feels intrusive, it's more or less impossible, and it also depressed the crap out of me.  This earn-to-spend mentality makes me emotionally ill, I get so upset when I find a way to save money, like using RW for the phone, only to hear him tell me that's great, because now he's got an extra $60 a month to spend on hobbies (or, as I sourly think of it, buying more shit).  On the other hand, tracking only what happens to my own money feels like chipping.  He put the gas in the car, I ate some of those chocolate bars he bought at Walmart even though I wouldn't have bought them myself, etc.  WWYD??
« Last Edit: December 23, 2014, 07:30:25 AM by frufrau »

DoNorth

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2014, 07:36:12 AM »
sounds like you may need to go the cash envelope route or have him put everything on one CC and do a weekly review in Mint.  You want to be efficient as possible and question every expenditure , but at the same time, not become so consumed by the details that you miss out on other things you enjoy.  My wife had a habit of buying for the future (next year etc.)  "but the kids will be in a size 6 next summer" or "that deal isn't going to be around", and we finally turned the corner with a rule that we only buy for the present (clothes, gifts etc.) and when necessary.  For her, motivation came from knowing that we'll retire when I'm 36 and she's 34 and that I no longer have to commute in DC any longer.

gecko10x

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2014, 07:43:39 AM »
Try YNAB (or some other tool) again, but with "me money" categories for each of you- say $100/mo. Any money spent from those categories require no tracking or accountability.

My wife and I use this method and it helped a lot, and I gather it has probably saved at least a few marriages. 

Future Lazy

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2014, 07:52:55 AM »
I agree with both posters above.

Give him a CC or a prepaid card with a low limit, like 50 or 100 bucks, and everything coming off that account is free and clear.

You might want to do some back tracking to get an idea of just how much he is spending per month - cutting a $500/mo spendthrift back to $50 is probably about as impossible as cutting a pack a day smoker back to two cigarettes.

Of course, it's up to your DH to eventually get on board. There's only so much enforcing (parenting?) you can do here before the relationship starts to suffer. Try to pull back the curtain and paint the picture of your lives after FIRE. That's my biggest motivator.

DoubleDown

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2014, 08:05:53 AM »
Tracking by itself is not going to accomplish anything except (justifiably) piss you off more seeing the bleeding. You have to come to an agreement on spending, together. Numerous ways to accomplish this, including the envelopes/allowance/etc. methods. I really think it's imperative you both come to an understanding on what can be spent each month (ESPECIALLY on discretionary items), period. If you go over that, it comes out of next month's "allowance."

He is undoing all of your hard work, it has to be stopped (or you'll have to forgo the entire notion of financial security, let alone FIRE).

neo von retorch

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2014, 08:35:17 AM »
Two things - one, I agree with others that you each need a specific (hopefully small) chunk of money that you 100% control without your partner's input, judgement, etc. (Not that it should be totally secret, except maybe when gifts are being bought, but you're not allowed to pass judgement on how they spend it.) This is for that subset of values you each have concerning money that do NOT overlap. The rest of the money, though, should be on your shared budget that you both agree upon and stick to.

Two, this daily spending is like a "fill the void" behavior. It doesn't really make him happy to buy things every day, but it's a habit, and he gets a little endorphin high each time, but it's filling in for something else. I'm not trying to make that a huge thing like "OMG he's miserable" but one of the biggest lessons we can learn from El Presidente Mustachio is that happiness is created by spending - it's creating by doing something interesting with our bodies and minds. He likes working on things and doing the maintenance on his motorcycle. Are there ways you can encourage more of that behavior with less spending (including getting him to stick to an allowance and be more thoughtful about each of those purchases)?

CommonCents

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2014, 07:25:19 PM »
Have you tried going with him on the errands to gently question when he multi-receipts?
Have you showed him how much he spent on the non-budgeted items?  What did he say?

Tracking w/o agreement on what is ok spending and what is not (or is from his "fun" money as people call it), is not likely to get you where you w/o other changes as well.

Mr. Frugalwoods

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2014, 07:34:26 PM »
First, where does he put it all?  I'm being serious!  Is there a garage, basement, or other man cave that's packed to the brim with unused stuff?  Sometimes people don't consciously think about how much "stuff" they are accumulating until they need to "tidy" their stash spot.

I also agree with the other posters that this calls for a budget with a "fun money" allotment.  It may be more politically palatable to allow him to suggest the amount per month.  This could even be amusing if he really doesn't "get" how much he's spending.

A separate credit card to be used _only_ for fun money could be useful in tracking.  Obviously, you'll have to have a talk about not combining expenses (like a coke at the gas station, along with a tank of gas) but this can make things easier in the long run.

hunniebun

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2014, 07:50:01 PM »
LOL! Are we married to the same man? I send dh to the grocery store for milk and he comes home with 20$ of junk food! I send him to Canadian Tire for a windshield wiper and he comes home with a two year (150$) of windshield washer fluid! Because it was on an amazing sale. Sigh.   I have been trying to figure out how to track our spending to. I have never done so and actually am confused on where to even start. I want to be very detailed because at the end of each month I want to show a spread sheet of these were needs and there were useless wants that we wasted X amount on crap, so we can be more aware moving forward. At least for the first little while! What is YNAB?

Future Lazy

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hunniebun

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2014, 08:26:14 AM »
AHHHH! Thank you @kaylaEM!!

kib

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2014, 12:06:45 PM »
Thanks for the feedback.

I've come up with a system for tracking only my own purchases that will have to do for now.  When I look at the two of us, I see two people who are so different in our very approach to life that it starts to make me feel hopeless, which is not very useful at all.  He - his whole family, in fact - are what I think of as busy-busy people, always running and running, sort of ADHD.  Why bother with planning, why make one trip with careful intent if you can just make six.  They get a lot out of life but they're human chaos machines for the methodical and cautious, constantly running into 'problems' that could have easily been avoided with a little more glue in the seat of their pants.

I don't approach the tracking issue because I have no idea how I'd rein in his behavior, it seems so ingrained.  But at least I'm getting a handle on numbers outside of his personal spending, it's a start.

Future Lazy

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2014, 12:22:52 PM »
I don't approach the tracking issue because I have no idea how I'd rein in his behavior, it seems so ingrained.  But at least I'm getting a handle on numbers outside of his personal spending, it's a start.

Don't approach it from the standpoint of "reining in". Approach it from the standpoint of awareness. "Did you know you spent $3000 on doohickeys this year? Did you know we owe $3000 on your credit card? Hmm...."

I frequently gather up and add up the sums of my DH's junk food receipts. The conversation usually goes like...
"What would you do with an extra $55?"
"I don't know, pay down part of my credit card? (or other X expense)"
"Oh... Hmm!"
And then shove $55 worth of receipts at him.

He may not have completely given up cash register beef snacks and pineapple fanta (gag), but he buys less of it.

TL;DR You can't rein him in, only he can rein him in. All you can do is inform.

HattyT

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2014, 05:40:31 PM »
I found my tracking went way down as I become more confident in my FI.   
How can you be confident in FI if you donít know what your household spending is?  It is possible to spend oneself out of FI.

I know Iím at FI because I track my expenses.  I use Mint.com to determine how much I spend each month.  I calculate the SWR of 4% of my stache as my income.  When my income is greater than my expenses, Iím at FI.  I track these numbers monthly and also on a 12 month year.  I calculate the % of my stache I spend each month.  If itís above 4%, I need to make adjustments. 

I am also using a calculation I got from jacob of ERE: How many years expenses is my net worth.  If I keep spending as I did last month, I have 14 years before I have to sell my house which gives me another 14 years.  So when my expenses are above 4%, I figure I have 14 years to get flexible, lower expenses or up income.

Mint.com  would be great in this case, because once itís set up and stabilized, you look only when you want.  If Iím happy that my overall expenses are low enough to meet my goals, it doesnít matter if I spent more in a sub-category like restaurants than I'd prefer.

You donít need to use my methodology.  But you do need a methodology.  How did you determine you are at FI?  Can you use that to determine if FI is sustainable for you now?
See if you can find a way of macro-tracking that works for you.

This is all before addressing his spending.  Does he save/invest money?  Does he have retirement plans? 

How much is he bringing in per month? How much is he spending?  Is it your agreement that your stashe will fill in any weekly gaps?  Is it your agreement that your stashe will fund his retirement?  Let him spend his money.  But you need a way to determine if your current spending as a couple is destabilizing your FI.  You need a way to quantify that.  You also need a way to stay incentivized to continue to the Mustachian efforts.

You may find that your stashe is enough to cover your current spending, if so, you can relax.

YoungInvestor

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2014, 06:10:47 PM »
Sounds like you want different things out of life in this regard. You'll need to discuss it together to find out what the two of you want to achieve.

If you're already FI and he brings in enough money to cover that stuff himself, I wouldn't care.

Mazzinator

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2014, 06:26:20 PM »
I'm also married to the same guy!!!

I use mint because it tracks most things automatically. And i disagree with cash or prepaid xyz.. At least in mint, using a card, i know where the money is going. Cash is like water to him. Over the course of this year, i was able to see just how much went to target..holy shit..but i can more easilu budget because i know to leave about $xxx each month for junk.

Good luck!!!

JuSp02

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2014, 07:24:27 PM »
I don't approach the tracking issue because I have no idea how I'd rein in his behavior, it seems so ingrained.  But at least I'm getting a handle on numbers outside of his personal spending, it's a start.

I used to be your husband, and sometimes still am. It's soooo easy to buy impulsively without realizing that all those little numbers add up. And the second those purchases are made, they are forgotten. Until he realizes how much money all of it is, he probably will not stop.

Shann106

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2014, 08:56:22 PM »
Sorry, no advice, just wanted to say I understand. Amazon boxes come to our house everyday, and the errand thing with something extra at every stop sounds all to familiar. I'm sorry, I truly know how frustrating it can be

former player

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2015, 02:28:05 AM »
How big is your home?  I'd be a bit worried that you have a potential hoarder here.   Garage sale time?  Move to a small home (no basement, no garage)?

Also, how about moving to a healthy eating regime to cut out the gas station snacks?  His body is your temple, etc., etc.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2015, 02:35:37 AM »
I definitely agree with allocating fun money and asking him to suggest how much. I am certain he will underestimate by half, but as he suggested that much he'll have to stick to it. Taxes! 50% reduction in stupid spending.

DeltaBond

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2015, 06:35:23 AM »
Wow, lots of acronyms in this thread.  What is DH and what is FI?

OP, you said he is not on board with this, but a few hundred years ago, or more, I'm bad with historical dates, this would be no different from him taking the crops you grew to feed the two of you and dumping the majority of them in the river.  This day in time, money is living.  So when you have a spouse who not only doesn't share your goals, but interferes with you making YOUR goals, you have more to talk about than money.

I was married for ten years, and that entire ten years I was paying off my ex-husband's constant purchases - he didn't buy little things, he bought music equipment, exercise equipment, classic car, golf clubs - seemed he had to spend at least $500 monthly on SOMETHING.  When I told him "no" about a purchase, he would turn into a dragon from hell for as LONG as it took for me to cave.  It was a complete burden.  I never said I divorced him over money, never said that out loud, as we had other problems I could blame it on, but I'll tell you, I saved my future walking away from that money pit.  I refuse to be old and broke, not gonna do it.

A spouse has to be someone who can meet your needs, not just your desires.

I hope you can find a way to make things work, but there is some underlying reason for the constant spending that might not be pretty to deal with, just making a budget for him or making him aware may very well make things seem very negative to him, this is the flaw in his personality you are going after.  I wish you the world of luck with this!  And please don't think there is no hope, but be realistic with yourself about it.  You matter, too.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2015, 06:59:17 AM by DeltaBond »

TerriM

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #21 on: January 01, 2015, 09:58:50 AM »
As others have said, this sounds like a behavior thing not a tracking thing.  The behavior is simply making the tracking untenable.

Couple of proposals, some already mentioned:
1.  Debit card with a limited amount transferred in each month.
2.  Corral the purchases and ask in a week whether he really needs the items and if they can be returned.  (This is the opposite of the limited debit card--if he needs the washers, he needs to explain why.  If he already has 20 pairs of socks, then he needs to explain why he bought three more.)
3.  If he's not using items right away (this is a problem that *I* have--lots of plans, never get around to them), ask him to make sure that the purchases are local and that the receipts are taped to them.  Ask him to agree to return the item if he doesn't get around to installing or using it within 20 days for online purchases or 2.5 months for Lowe's/Home Depot.  He can always repurchase it later, but his todo list should be on *paper*, not a stash of things that need to be installed. 

I totally Identify with #3, and when the receipts get separated, it's much harder to return things.  Home Depot has a lovely liberal return policy, but you have to have the receipts.  So I've kept the receipts, but they're not organized. At this point, when we move out, I'm going to have a heck of a time returning all the stuff I never installed.

Future Lazy

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #22 on: January 03, 2015, 08:33:17 PM »
Wow, lots of acronyms in this thread.  What is DH and what is FI?

DH: Darling Husband

Also,

DW: Dear Wife (or Darling Wife, I suppose!)

FI: Financially Independent

caliq

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Re: Tracking and the Shaven Spouse
« Reply #23 on: January 03, 2015, 09:25:04 PM »
Has he ever seen the monthly or yearly totals of all these little expenses? 

My husband's one "vice" is video games, and it's pretty much our only entertainment spending so I don't get on him too much about it.  Normally he tries to buy things on sale, or indie games that are less than $20, etc etc.  However, this fall he got sucked into this mobile game on his phone and started spending money on in game money or gems or points or whatever.  It was always "only $5."  Well after two or three months I was going through Mint and added it up -- he had spent close to $250 on video games in total and around $180 ish on this one stupid phone game if I remember properly.  I sat him down and said there was no way in hell that he was spending any more money on mobile games, and once he saw the total number he absolutely agreed with me and felt really bad because he didn't realize how it all added up.  Can you add up all the "misc" expenses and shock your husband with a scary sounding total?

Alternatively, don't tell him when you save $60 a month by changing services, just quietly reallocate the $60 to a responsible purpose?  I don't know how much control/interest he has over your finances but I know I would be able to do that with out my husband noticing -- he's more of the "honey how much money do I have?" type.